Quotes of the day

One America News Network, “OAN”, a credible source for 24/7 national and international news, released today its most recent 2016 Republican Presidential National Poll results conducted by Gravis Marketing. One America News Network’s latest national poll shows some amazing results for political outsider Donald Trump. The New York real estate mogul has surged 30% above his pre-debate first place poll finish of 30.8% (as reported by OAN on July 31st) soaring to a new high of 40.1%. Dr. Ben Carson, who won the GOP first debate as reported by OAN per its post-debate national poll results, has moved into second with 13.0%. Jeb Bush dropped 3.3% to 10.0%, landing the former Florida Governor in third place. Rounding out the top five and capturing a higher percentage of the GOP poll vote is Ted Cruz at 7.0% and Carly Fiorina with 5.2%. Fiorina has the biggest ranking jump moving from a previous 12th place, non-main stage debate position, into the top five. Three of the top five, namely Trump, Carson, and Fiorina, have never held office.

***

Donald Trump’s ejection of Univision anchor Jorge Ramos at a Tuesday night news conference was “a giant plus” for the Republican presidential candidate, former political adviser Roger Stone told Newsmax TV on Wednesday.

“It shows Trump at his best,” Stone told “Newsmax Prime” host J.D. Hayworth. “He was in command of the situation. He was firm, he was fair, he let the guy come back in — but Ramos is a left-wing agitator.”…

“This helped Trump and I’ll tell you why,” Stone told Hayworth. “The American people realize the elite media is in bed with the elite establishment.”

“They prop each other up, they don’t like outsiders like Trump asking hard questions about the Clinton-Bush continuum and the problems with our broken political system,” he added. “So this was a giant plus for Trump.”

***

Donald Trump just held a press conference prior to a speech in Iowa which was – and I say this without exaggeration – the most bizarre thing I have seen in a lifetime of following politics. It was at once an illustration of why the media fixates on him, and also why the other candidates in the race cannot deal with him…

Watching Donald Trump speak and answer questions, though, is like watching a billion targets appear in the sky all at once, for a political opponent. Each thing he says is so bizarre, or ill informed, or demonstrably false, or un presidential in tone or character, that it becomes impossible to know which target to lock on to or focus on. And to the extent that he makes a policy statement, it is so hopelessly vague and ludicrous that it’s impossible to know where to begin, at least within the context of the 30-second soundbite that the modern political consumer requires (and chances are, he will say something diametrically opposed to it before the press conference is over anyway).

Donald Trump is the political equivalent of chaff, a billion shiny objects all floating through the sky at once, ephemeral, practically without substance, serving almost exclusively to distract from more important things – yet nonetheless completely impossible to ignore.

***

Democratic strategist James Carville said on Wednesday that GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump is enjoying unprecedented momentum on the 2016 campaign trail.

“He is dominating this conversation unlike anything I’ve ever seen, I guarantee you,” he told hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“It is something to see,” Carville added of Trump. “Everybody keeps saying, ‘oh, it’s going to go away.’ As of now, it seems to be sticking around a bit longer than anybody thought.”…

“The Republican Party is maybe 40 percent of the country,” he said. “Let’s just say a third of the Republican Party is enamored with Trump. So you’re talking about a third of 40 percent, but that can put substantial damage into the political system of a country.”

***

It’s become fashionable on the left to sneer at the very sound of Donald Trump’s name; Bernie Sanders more or less captured the mood when he dismissed Trump as “an embarrassment” in a recent interview. But there is one contingent of liberals who take a very different view. They believe, cheerfully, that Trump is nothing less than the second coming—of campaign finance reform…

As pundits search for the source of Trump’s resilient appeal, reformers say they’ve long known the answer: the constant emphasis on how his staggering wealth immunizes him from insider influence. It has arguably now become the campaign’s most salient theme. “I don’t need anybody’s money. I’m using my own money,” Trump scoffed at his campaign announcement in June. A month later, he told the Wall Street Journal, “When you give [contributions], they do whatever the hell you want them to do.” And primary voters seem spellbound. “The guys who want to give me a million—I said, forget it. Who cares?” Trump recently told a rapt audience. “All of the money that’s going to Hillary, and Jeb, and Scott and Marco? They’re totally controlled. Totally.”

The drubbing has only continued, and many share the sentiment that Trump has become an educator, if accidentally, on campaign finance. “In the course of explaining his many political contributions, he’s made the same points the reformers have made: that this is a pay-to-play system, that people put their money in and expect to get results,” said Trevor Potter, founding president of the Campaign Legal Center and former chairman of the Federal Election Commission during the Clinton administration. David Donnelly, president of the nonpartisan group Every Voice, a leading nonprofit that advocates for campaign finance laws, agreed. “What Trump is saying is the truth because he can afford to say it,” said Donnelly. “A lot of the other candidates don’t feel like they can afford to say it, because they’d bite the hand that feeds.”

***

Trump’s core appeal is nativism; more than anything else, Trump voters are against immigration. But if Trump persists through the year and into the primaries—and if he survives past Iowa and New Hampshire—then he’ll need a broader message than anger against unauthorized immigrants.

There’s almost no chance that Trump or his team has read Greenberg. But if Greenberg is right—and millions of Americans are open to an explicit message against the wealthy donors and fundraisers that dominate American politics—then Trump’s message of financial independence could be his key to a broader constituency.

Public opinion bears this out. According to a June poll from CBS News and the New York Times, 84 percent of Americans say money has “too much influence” in American elections. And 39 percent want “fundamental” changes in our system for funding political campaigns, while 46 percent say it needs complete rebuilding. Republicans terrified of a third-party Trump candidacy should consider this, as well: 58 percent of Americans say that both parties benefit equally from the vast amount of money in political campaigns.

Who better to stop special interests and wealthy corporations than a rich man who doesn’t need their money, who isn’t beholden to either party, and is ready to drive the hardest deal possible? Who better, to millions of disaffected Americans, than Trump?

***

What’s interesting is how Trump seemed to go out of his way after the debate to ensure that he’d remain the center of attention, with his tirade against Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly (a feud that he’s since resurrected). That tended to drown out most of the coverage of whether, say, Fiorina or Kasich had gained momentum after the debate, perhaps preventing them from having the sort of feedback loop of favorable attention that can sometimes trigger surges in the polls.

I don’t know whether this was a deliberate strategy on Trump’s behalf. But if so, it’s pretty brilliant. Trump is perhaps the world’s greatest troll, someone who is amazingly skilled at disrupting the conversation by any means necessary, including by drawing negative, tsk-tsking attention to himself. In the current, “free-for-all” phase of the campaign — when there are 17 candidates and you need only 20 percent or so of the vote to have the plurality in GOP polls — this may be a smart approach. If your goal is to stay at the center of attention rather than necessarily to win the nomination, it’s worth making one friend for every three enemies, provided that those friends tell some pollster that they’d hypothetically vote for you…

[T]here’s not a lot of hard campaign news to dissect in August. Fend off the occasional threat by throwing a stink bomb whenever another story risks upstaging you, and you can remain at the center of the conversation, and atop the polls, for weeks at a time.

***

I think there’s something else at play here. Trump has basically declared himself the anti-Obama, an all-American (he still believes Obama was born in Kenya) who has built things and run things and hasn’t just been an egghead and government guy.

In fact, what Trump is promising is simply a different form of Obamaism, and that is what perversely makes him attractive to so many people.

Obama’s astonishing second-term efforts to do an end-run around the constitutional limits of the presidency have given Trump’s approach peculiar resonance with certain conservatives…

Trump is, in effect, promising to be a right-wing Obama, to run roughshod over the rules to fix things Obama and other politicians have broken.

***

When presidents fail to control events to our liking, critics often suggest that the problem is the chief executive’s failure to try hard enough or act tough enough. I’ve called this pattern the Green Lantern theory of the presidency after the comic book superheroes who wield special rings with powers that are limited only by the hero’s willpower.

Mr. Trump is the purest Green Lantern candidate we’ve seen in recent years. He cleverly exploits the appeal of presidential omnipotence by contrasting his supposedly decisive style of business leadership as a real estate magnate with the compromises, inertia and policy failures that are inevitable in politics…

In a certain sense, then, Mr. Trump is playing a character we created — a Frankenstein’s monster of myths of the presidency come to life.

Other politicians can’t easily knock down his claims given their own proclivity for making exaggerated promises and claims about what they will accomplish as president. Mr. Trump is in a sense calling their bluff.

***

“This is the antithesis of classical liberalism and must be stopped.”

So writes Patrick Ruffini this morning on a theme we’ve been beating here on Bearing Drift for some weeks now.  The populist/conservative civil war now careening very close to a Fort Sumter moment, we are perhaps witnessing the rise of European-style far right populist parties…

If there is to be a rending of the Republican Party into populist and conservative camps, let it come quickly.  Trump’s advisors have to know that they cannot win the Republican nomination in the long run.  Mainstream conservative candidates such as Rubio, Bush, and Walker also know that while the populist prize is considerable, the opportunity to re-forge Reaganist fusionism is too delicious not to pursue.  Rand Paul is not finished yet, and the future lies in a constitutionally secure, libertarian-leaning Republican Party focused like a laser on the business of government as business: creating jobs, accountable standards, a fair and level playing field, an an affordable shot at the American Dream…

Conservatives need not fear the coming divorce.  What conservatives ought to be doing is articulating a clear path forward, one that is constitutional in size and libertarian in scope, that will not get us to that shining city on a hill tomorrow… but lays out the path for the next 20 years in bold, responsible language that unleashes the American economy and inspires a generation.  The opportunities for a center-right coalition are immense if we only have the courage to grab it.

***